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Dr. Donald E. Higgins interview with Tales of Cape Cod, June 29, 1978.
Born in 1904, Dr. Higgins speaks of his father who was also a general practitioner in Marstons Mills. His father lived from 1844 to 1942. His father made house calls by horse and buggy and by horse and sleigh in the winter. The Stanley Steamer was his father’s first car. He had to travel to eastern Massachusetts, where the car was made and spent time there learning how to drive and repair the car. It was shipped to the Cape via rail. He had an office in his home, one in Cotuit and one in Osterville. His home office contained a waiting room, laboratory, examination room and operating room. There was no hospital on the Cape until the 1919. Operations were performed in the home. Dr. Higgins started his own practice during the Depression. Patients used the barter system to pay their medical bills. Dr. Higgins remembers receiving a suckling pig for Thanksgiving and also trading medical care for carpentry work on his house. At the beginning of his career, he charged $25.00 for delivering a baby which included pre and post-natal care. An office visit which included medicine was $1.00. During Prohibition doctors were allowed 100 prescriptions per quarter for alcohol. Over a four period, Dr. Higgins prescribed alcohol only three times.
The Tales of Cape Cod Oral History Collection is located at the William Brewster Nickerson Archives in the Wilkens Library at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable, Massachusetts.
For more information about the Collection, please contact the Nickerson Archives at http://www.nickersonarchives.org/.
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